In the tiny house world, there is regular talk about tiny house communities: who might start one? Who is presenting at a zoning meeting? I know that with so many of us making runs at the barriers, and poking holes in it, that eventually (and I believe, soon,) someone is going to burst through to the other side and get a approval to actually set one up.
I worry, though, that nobody is thinking past that point. It used to be that we were pushing for code. (We have the first steps done on that, thanks to Andrew Morrison.) Now that we have code, we’re pushing for zoning. When we get zoning, we are going to find ourselves in communities. Are we prepared to create? Do we know what questions need to be answered to create a successful community? Do you know how you would answer the questions for *yourself,* let alone how people who might park next to you might answer them? It’s time that to look past the next hurdle. Tiny house communities do not have a rip cord you pull that makes them suddenly materialize with perfect layout and guidelines. To be good advocates for community, each of us needs to be thinking about what our personal utopia looks like.
Did you know there are (at least) 5 types of community structure? Whaaaa –? Five?! Which one would be the best fit for you?
Have you thought about what would happen if you are an introvert who loves to quietly garden and a couple who likes to have extended family cookouts moves in next door?
Have you thought about the community garden? Sure, you may have a general vision that you want one, but who is paying for the soil that will need to be brought in, or the water needed? Is that a shared spigot, or is that a personal one? What if you’ve been nurturing that perfect tomato and you go out to check on it and it’s gone? (Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen!)
What if 5 of you go together and create a village and you can’t ever get everyone into the same room to make a joint decision about something that you feel is super important? Hello frustration!
Or, let’s back up – why do you want to live in a community? What is your intention for it?
Additionally, what kind of a vibe do you want it to have?
What if you think you know someone and become neighbors, and then you find out you’re very different. Who leaves? How does that get decided? Is there a process for that?
Even worse, what if a community is announced, you claim a space and move in and you hate it? What is YOUR utopia? With as many different tiny house designs and decors there are, there are that many and more styles of living. The odds that you’ll miraculously land in a community with all like-minded folks are slim.
I’m not trying to be debbie-downer; these are questions that I have been asking myself in the last year. Do I have all the answers? No. Does my mind change about things pretty regularly? Yes. Do John and I always agree on what community looks like? No. How do we navigate all of that? How much can we anticipate and control?
I’m worried that if there isn’t some homework done, and we don’t look ahead to answer these questions, that when a community opportunity does come, we’ll screw it up. Not only will the larger community be watching and be excited to say, “I told you so,” but friendships might be damaged in the process. Let’s be proactive, let’s look past the zoning hurdle and be ready to have respectful conversations when the opportunity comes.
How do you start that? How do you know what the types of community are? How do you know what questions to ask, much less how to figure out the answers?
Come to see the tiny house village at Earth Day Texas. And while you are there, take advantage of a resource being offered: a tiny house community and zoning workshop. It’s 4 hours, and it’s $99. Oh! ninety-nine dollars! But what fraction of your current rent or mortgage is that? Probably not much. It’s an investment in your vision, in your tiny house life. There is no better way to equip yourself to move forward than sitting down in a room with people who have already formed, and lived in a tiny house community, and asking questions. Guess what? It isn’t always utopia. But there are steps you be smart about how to resolve things. Steps you can take to build the community that you believe that you want.
Tiny house community. It’s a nebulous, vague thing that so many of us hold out as the “ultimate dream.” Let’s get ready so that you CAN create and live in your utopia! Think about how much time you’ve spent planning your house and spend at least that much time planning the community in which it sits.
Join Lee Pera of Boneyard Studios, Lina Menard of Niche Consulting LLC  of the Tiny House Collaborative April 22 or April 23 at Fair Park Dallas. Registration is open, and seats are limited:
BONUS: Registering for the workshop will gain you access to the 13 DIY houses on tour at a special time, without the 40,000+ people who also want to see them! That alone is worth the $99 for some folks, lol